Peas are normally sown directly into the ground to minimize root disturbance. This means waiting for the soil to warm up, which can be a drag when you’re eager to get started! However, with a little ingenuity you can get your pea planting off to an extra-early start…
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An Easy Way to Start Peas Using Guttering
Starting peas in rain guttering enables you to sow them under cover, out of reach of mice, and get an early start to your crop. To make your pea gutters, you’ll need:
- Standard house rain guttering.
- A hacksaw.
- Standard, multi-purpose potting soil.
- A protected environment, such as a cold frame or greenhouse. (Short lengths can even be placed on a bright windowsill.)
Sowing Peas in Guttering
- Cut your guttering into manageable lengths using a hacksaw (remember, they’ll be heavy when full of potting soil).
- Fill the guttering halfway with potting soil then sow your seeds. Space seeds about 1-2 inches apart. Top up the guttering with more potting soil then gently pat down to firm.
- Place the guttering on a bench in a greenhouse or tunnel, or into a cold frame if it gets warm enough. Water thoroughly using a watering can fitted with a rose.
Planting Out Your Peas
When your seedlings are about 2-4 inches tall, it’s time to plant them outside into a sunny part of your garden in soil that’s rich and well-drained.
Use a spare piece of guttering to make a furrow just the right size for your seedlings. Carefully slide your peas out of the gutter, either from a complete length of guttering, or by dividing the potting soil up into smaller sections then sliding the section out with your fingers. Once the plants are in the ground, firm down the edges and water to settle them in.
Most varieties will need some sort of support. Branched, twiggy sticks can be used for the shortest varieties. Install some netting or pea mesh between stakes for tallet varieties (they should find their own way onto their supports).
Protect seedlings from birds such as pigeons. Suspend netting on stakes above the plants, or place bottle cloches over each seedling with the top open for ventilation.
Keep the ground free of weeds, water plants in dry weather, and mulch to lock in soil moisture. And that’s it!